HEAD CASES: SERIAL KILLERS IN THE DELAWARE VALLEY

4.5 Stars
Year Released: 2013
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 109 minutes
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For almost three decades, virtually no one residing in the Delaware Valley was safe from the notorious serial killer, Wayne Montgomery. Revered by many, Montgomery schooled his disciples in the meticulous art of murder— long after his own life was abruptly snuffed out— under the most mysterious of circumstances.

Head Cases: Serial Killers in the Delaware Valley is Anthony Spadaccini’s newest cut of the Wayne Montgomery saga. The film is based upon three prior films under Spadaccini’s direction: Head Case (2007), The Ritual (2009), and Post Mortem (2010). In Head Cases: Serial Killers, Spadaccini focuses upon Wayne Montgomery’s unusual relationships with the women in his life, namely, Wayne’s mother, Julie Quinn— and his wife, Andrea Craven.

An aspiring fashion model, Julie gave birth to Wayne at the age of fourteen. Wayne’s father apparently left Julie to fend for herself, which she did, as best she could. Julie clearly resented giving up her dreams for the future, and took out every bit of hostility, on her baby.

Andrea Craven was a waitress who worked the graveyard shift at a local restaurant. She was also a gold digger and manipulator, who scoped out Charles Craven as husband-material the very moment he walked into the restaurant one night. Though Andrea wasn’t the least bit attracted to Charles, she was enamored of the young business owner’s money and lifestyle, and so, per-plan, they were married, took exotic trips, and had children.

Shortly thereafter, Charles lost the business he inherited, and became progressively more abusive to Andrea. It was at this point that Andrea met the bespectacled, soft-spoken Wayne Montgomery, and suddenly the troublesome Charles Craven disappeared, to be found later brutally murdered. Wayne Montgomery became Andrea’s second husband.

I think you know where the story is going from here…

What’s interesting about Spadaccini’s film is that it plays out in typical, found-footage-documentary-form, though midway through it becomes apparent that the filmmaker has toyed with us and made up the entire tale. We discover Spadaccini’s game through a few seeming flaws. Two of these are physical and concern blood spatter. In the movie, all images of blood spatter are perfectly spherical and of the exact same width. In real life, only precise perpendicular or vertically falling blood-droplets will appear in circular form, and even then, will not be of the exact same circumference.
It is also very obvious that Spadaccini’s cinematic-blood is not truly human, which is just as well, for most viewers who are not scientifically or morbidly inclined.

The other seeming error is that, in spite of the fact that Spadaccini’s film is all about in-depth acts of sadistic murder, the character-narratives are often humorous. Again, I’m not sure if this is intentional, but even if it is, the slightly comic feel to the film weakens it, so that any edgy grittiness becomes less and less horrific.

What is notable, if not brilliant, about Head Cases: Serial Killers is Spadaccini’s ability to give us the bare outlines of psychological profiling, without spoonfeeding us a Criminal Minds-type storyline. In other words, the filmmaker allows us viewers to use our own imaginations about indicators and stressors that may or may not have created Wayne Montgomery’s criminal mindset.

It’s also more than interesting to me that every character in the film appears at one time or another to be wholesome, sweet, and good. Yes, even that manipulator-in-chief, Julie Quinn, does at times possess and nourish both Wayne and one of his murderous disciples with self-sacrificing, motherly love. It is this disturbing concept, that those living in very close proximity to us can so seamlessly shade their criminal-makeup and intentions, that is ever so frightening.

Even more troubling is the art of filmmaking, itself—why certain of us are possessed to visually document our acts— or the actions of others—and why viewers are compelled to watch these movies, no matter the gore or sadism involved. Keep in mind, Wayne Montgomery is a brutal, serial killer and to this end, he devotes his life. At the same time, Wayne feels the need to intricately document each act of murder not simply for the sake of historical accuracy, but to teach murder and, dare I suggest, filmmaking, to those who wish to learn.

What all this means is up to each viewer of these movies and their content, both of which may give us pause the next time we step into a theatre or download a film.

As for Head Cases: Serial Killers in the Delaware Valley, with all flaws aside, this provocative and educational movie will get under your skin—and is well on its way to cult immortality.

This film was submitted for review through our Submission for Review system. If you have a film you’d like us to see, and we aren’t already looking into it on our own, you too can utilize this service.



Posted on November 16, 2013 in Reviews by
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